By Mike Pearson, News staff
When it comes to drug enforcement, Hamilton police chief Glenn De Caire isn’t taking any tips from Vancouver police.
De Caire, who is set to depart as the city’s top cop by the end of 2014, said Hamilton police will not “pass a problem” in contrast to law enforcement officers in Vancouver. De Caire made his comments during a speech last Friday to the Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce.
“I will not speak ill of our colleague in Vancouver, but they got it wrong,” said De Caire. “They are passing problems. There are parts of their city that they have essentially just written off.”
De Caire explained he recently walked a beat for a couple of days with some Vancouver officers, where he saw rampant intravenous drug use.
“They actually have a policy in Vancouver that nobody will get arrested for possession of a drug,” said De Caire, who repeated the phrase twice.
“I can tell you that as chief of police, that will not be supported in Hamilton. There is not an area of this city that I or our people are prepared to write-off.”
De Caire said Vancouver’s East Hastings Street has 12,000 on-street intravenous drug users.
“They have such a problem with drugs in their city that the speed limits in the inner core have been reduced from 50 km-h to 30 kilometres,” said De Caire. “People are so high that they fall off the sidewalks and fall into the paths of moving cars and they get killed.”
De Caire said police laid more than 2,000 drug charges last year, a 40 per cent increase from 2009. He said those statistics include a 100 per cent increase in drug charges among youth aged 12-17, a figure he called disturbing. Many of those teens started with marijuana before moving on to harder drugs.
“That’s why we also do not support here in Hamilton the legalization of marijuana or the reduction of enforcement of marijuana because we know from all the research of medical professionals that it’s very much a gateway drug to other things,” said De Caire.